Ballmer Waves Business-Application Flag

Microsoft's CEO makes no bones about his belief that the company can scale its Microsoft Business Solutions unit into a multibillion-dollar business.

TORONTO—Microsoft has big plans for scaling its application-software business, CEO Steve Ballmer told partners at its worldwide partner conference here Tuesday.

"My ambition is to make the whole world Danish," quipped Ballmer, who said the Danish market is almost completely dominated by Microsofts Navision, Axapta and other ERP (enterprise resource planning) and supply chain management wares. Navision, which Microsoft acquired in 2002, is based in Vedbaek, Denmark.

Ballmer spent the bulk of his keynote taking questions, submitted in advance, from small, midsize and large partners. Ballmer and other Microsoft executives here are projecting that Microsoft Business Solutions ultimately could be a multibillion-dollar business, on par with Microsofts Windows, Office and server businesses.

"We need to execute our current strategy on a bigger scale," Ballmer said. "I want to be what MBS is like in Denmark. If MBS were available [as widely] as we are in Denmark, MBS would be a factor of ten times larger than it is now."

MBS is the amalgamation of Great Plains Software, Navision, Microsoft CRM and the software/services that have powered Microsofts small-business Web portal. As of Microsofts third fiscal quarter, MBS was the second smallest of Microsofts seven independent business units in terms of revenue, at $153 million.

On the opening day of the partner conference, Microsoft officials said the company is investing $850 million in MBS in its fiscal 2005, which kicked off on July 1.

"When we got into Business Solutions, we saw no reason to be in the business if we were just trying to be better than the current ERP products on the market," Ballmer said, in response to one partners question on Microsofts plans to more thoroughly integrate the MBS products with the "classic" Microsoft products.

Ballmer said the company has far bigger plans for MBS. Microsoft began integrating the MBS partner base with its own over the past year, resulting in a transition that many channel partners at the show here have said was rocky.

Now, Microsoft is working on exploiting synergies between its classic and MBS products, Ballmer said. To wit, Microsoft is working so its Office desktop suite members, such as Excel, can read back-end line-of-business data. Its also integrating its MBS family members, especially the Microsoft Business Portal, more tightly with SharePoint, its collaboration technology.


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